Many philosophical questions have been put to the Retro Dodo team over the years, but perhaps none as important as ‘is the PS3 backwards compatible?’
With so many epic games released for the PS1 and the PS2 over the years, there’s no surprise that readers and gamers are questioning whether they can play them up on a HDTV without messing around with converters.
Who has time to mess around searching for a scart cable or an RGB converter when so many great games are calling!
Here’s a definitive guide to what the PS3 can do, which games it can play, and why it’s still one of our favourite consoles of all time.
Is The PS3 Backwards Compatible?
Yes, the PS3 is backwards compatible.
That’s the short answer, but the long answer is a bit more complicated.
Let’s talk about the best PS1 games first.
All PS3 consoles are backwards compatible with PS1 games. It doesn’t matter whether you own one of the original units from when the console launched or whether you bought a PS3 Super Slim the day before they were discontinued in 2017.
This means that you can play your original Spyro, Metal Gear Solid, and Crash Bandicoot games up on your HDTV or through your projector without any upscalers or special HDMI adapters.
We’re huge fans of the fact that Sony gave a nod to their first home console here. The PS1 remains a legendary icon, and keeping the games alive for new gamers is something that’s clearly important to them.
But what about the PS2? What about the best PS2 games for the best selling console of all time? Is the PS3 backwards compatible with PS2 games?
Yes… and no.
Up Close And Personal With The PS3
Can you believe that the first PS3 console came out in 2006? I know, just take a minute to let that sink in.
The very first ‘fat models’ of the PS3 are now 15 years old, with the Super Slim clocking in a respectable 9 years. 86-million consoles later and with a tonne of the best PS3 games released to critical acclaim, Sony’s 3rd console certainly made a positive impression on the world.
But what services does the PS3 boast? What can it do that the PS2 can’t? Is it worth picking one up in 2021, and is the PS3 backwards compatible?
What Can The PS3 Do?
Like many of you out there, I was super excited about all of the extra features that came with the PS3.
My PS3 Super Slim was more than just a games console; it was an immersive entertainment package.
Sky Go, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube; they were all there at the touch of a rechargeable controller button.
In other words, a lazy person’s dream console!
I actually use my PS3 more for playing Blu-ray discs these days as opposed to games. When Sony announced that the console would be capable of playing 3D films as well as DVDs, my mind was well and truly blown.
Ok, so I never owned a 3DTV, but if I did happen to come across one, then my trusty PS3 was ready!
What Services Work On The PS3?
When did the PS3 become a retro console? 2018; that’s when.
Sony closed off all services for the PS3 back in 2018, including the PS Store. That means that unless you have existing discs to slot into these consoles or downloaded games, then they don’t do a right lot these days.
Services such as iPlayer and All4 here in the U.K no longer work, though access to YouTube still works at the time of writing.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; what about that epic Call of Duty multiplayer rematch you and your pen-pal never got around to having? Don’t worry; the Multiplayer servers are still open, though we don’t know for how much longer.
If I were you, I’d get in as many matches as possible before PS5 fever ramps up even more and Sony resigns the PS3 to the history books for good!
Which PS3 Consoles Play PS2 Games?
Not all PS3 consoles are backwards compatible with PS2 games. We wish it were as simple as just slotting any game into any console and revelling in those nostalgic early-noughties vibes, but you need a specific console.
If you’ve got a Slim or Super Slim PS3, then I’m afraid you’re fresh out of luck. These consoles are only backwards compatible with original PS1 games and not the likes of God of War 2 and Final Fantasy X.
These two ‘fat’ consoles are the only two that play PS2 games. They came out at launch back in 2006 and, although they’re a little slow in places and probably sporting a few chips and scratches, these consoles are the best option for playing PS1, PS2, and PS3 games all on one console.
Those of you with an 80GB PS3 or a Metal Gear Solid edition asking ‘is the PS3 backwards compatible?’ may well be wondering if your consoles are up to the task of playing PS2 games.
Again, it’s a bit of complicated answer…
If you’ve never connected your console up to the internet or updated your settings, then there’s a chance that software emulation for the PS2 may be possible. Still, if you’ve used any of the online entertainment services or the PS Store, then the chances are slim.
We’d recommend getting the 20GB or 60GB for a much easier, stress free PS2 compatible life.
How Much Does a PS2 Backwards Compatible PS3 Cost?
PS2 Backwards Compatible PS3 consoles can cost anywhere between $41 and $520 depending on condition and whether they ship with any accessories.
I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again; the original ‘fat edition’ is still considered to be the best PS3 of the bunch.
Sure, it might swallow the occasional disc and be a bit temperamental, but these consoles still tend to go for the big bucks because they are backwards compatible.
Plus they were the first console to feature an HDMI port. That might not sound like a big deal right now, but it was practically futuristic back in the day!
Boxed, used consoles still tend to sell for around the $350 mark, even in 2021. Sealed consoles that have never seen the light of day can sell for $1,500 and upwards.
People really take this backwards compatability thing seriously!
How To Tell Whether Your PS3 Is Backwards Compatible With PS2 Games
If you haven’t ever seen a PS3 before but still want to explore the answer to ‘is the PS3 backwards compatible’, then well done for making it this far.
There are easy tell tale signs to look our for to find out whether your PS3 is compatible with PS2 games without knowing about GB sizes or any other jargon.
For starters, if your console says ‘PS3’ on the top of it, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. The original PS3 consoles say ‘PlayStation 3’ on the top of the casing in white writing.
Speaking of the casing, the ‘fat’ models have a shiny black plastic casing as opposed to the sleek matt finish on the slim models. The disc loading panels are in the same place, but the 20GB and 60GB models have a colourful PS logo and a big ledge that houses the power and eject buttons.
If your console has a top-loading disc tray, then it’s Super Slim and is therefore not compatible with PS2 discs. Likewise, if your PS3 is matt black and features a black disc loading slot, then you can only play PS1 games on it.
If in doubt, buy one of the ones that looks super old and you should be fine!
Can I Play PS2 Games On My PS3 Super Slim?
As I mentioned above, you can play PS2 games on a PS3 Super Slim so long as they were downloaded from the PS Store. If they’re stored on your harddrive, then you can still enjoy those exciting games to your heart’s content.
Are There Any Other Options?
If none of the solutions that we’ve provided to ‘is the PS3 backwards compatible’ work for you and you still own a bunch of PS2 games that can’t be played, then we have a couple more ideas.
The first one that springs to mind would be to buy a PS2. That would be the best way of playing your PS2 games without causing a massive headache. They’re flat too, so you could probably sit your PS3 on top of one!
The other solution would be to rip your games and use one of the best PS2 emulators, or more specifically, PSCX2. It’s open source and works on all the major operating systems, often providing better graphics than the PS2 itself!
Do you still have an original PS3? Are you happy that you’ve found out it’s possible to replay Silent Hill on your PS3 Slim up on the big screen? Let us know your PS3 story over on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.